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Mon, Aug 28 2006

Bibim bop is tasty

This post may be of limited interest to those of you who never make it to our little corner of the world. In spite of being filled with Mexican restaurants and taquerias, there is one restaurant dish that another diners come to the town of Watsonville, California to order. And it's not Mexican. You actually go to a local Japanese restaurant, Imura, in order to get it. But it's not Japanese. It't Korean. It's bibim bop—also spelled bi-bim bap, bibimbop, beebimbop, beebimbap, bebimbap. I'm told there are variations of this tasty meal, but Imura brings it to you in a big stone bowl that is so hot they put a plate underneath it. The rice, veggies, and meat or tofu inside are all sizzling and still cooking because the bowl is so hot. The mixture is topped with a soft-fried egg and the dish is served with condiment plates of pickled veggies and a red hot sauce that one should add sparingly at first, until finding out how much heat is acceptable. You get a big spoon with the dish and you use it to mix the ingredients. You mix for several minutes, because the whole thing is much too hot to eat right away and it's also still cooking and self-blending its great flavors.

We had occasion to go to Imura several times in a 3-week period this summer, so servings of bibim bop were brought to our table quite often. While many people wolf down the sushi and the teriyaki at Imura (and those are done very well there) we have had strangers stop at our table more than once to ask what on earth we ordered. If you don't live in this area it would be worth your while to find a restaurant in your area that serves bibim bop. (I'm told that the original version of this dish had a raw egg, so if that thought frightens you, do be certain to ask how the egg is prepared when ordering the dish at some other location.) If you do live in or near California's Santa Cruz County, Imura is located in a Watsonville shopping center "satellite building" at 1994C Main Street, just a short hop off beautiful coastal Highway 1.

posted at: 11:50 | category: /Food | link to this entry

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